Oran is Algeria’s second-largest city, and in colonial times had a large Spanish and French population. The city was the scene of particularly violent clashes in the early 1960s, during and following the Algerian War of Independence. Thousands of Europeans fled, leaving parts of Oran deserted. The old colonial quarter of Sidi El Houari is one such neighborhood. Once known for its beautiful colonial buildings, it has run to ruin and his now inhabited by poor families living in difficult conditions. Among them are numbers of single mothers, widows, or wives whose husbands are jobless, and who themselves have to go out to work to support their families. They are women who have to be ‘the man of the house’.
The position of women in the workforce in Algeria remains a weak one, despite high levels of female education. Although more than half of university students are women, this is far from the case when it comes to women’s representation in the economic sector, and women in the workplace generally face discrimination and harassment. Some activist organizations are working for greater equality in the workplace, but life for women without male economic support remains a struggle.